Species Profile

Coastal Scouler's Catchfly

Scientific Name: Silene scouleri ssp. grandis
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2003
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v); C2a(ii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This is a species of highly restricted geographical occurrence in Canada with fewer than 350 plants comprising two remaining populations present on very small islands. Along with other historical population extirpations, a Vancouver Island population has recently been extirpated. These islands are located within an area of active shipping and recreational activities where invasive plants and human activities present on-going risks.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2003.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-01-12

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Coastal Scouler's Catchfly

Coastal Scouler's Catchfly Photo 1



The Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly is distinct from other species within its habitat, even when it is not in flower. It is an upright perennial herb that grows to heights of 15 to 80 cm. The leaves at the base of the plant are hairy, 6 to 20 cm long, up to 1.5 cm wide, and encircle the stem. Further up the stalk the leaves occur in pairs. The Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly grows in clumps and each flowering plant produces a spike-like flower stalk. The flowers, arranged in an elongated manner on the stalk, are greenish-white to purple. The fruits are oblong capsules containing grayish-brown, 1-mm-long seeds.


Distribution and Population

The Coastal Scouler's Catchfly is restricted to western coastal North America. It is found in coastal areas from extreme southern British Columbia to the San Francisco Bay area of California in the United States. In Canada, it is limited to three small islands close to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Of the approximately 12 populations of the Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly that once occurred, only two remain. Their combined total population is less than 350 plants.



A habitat specialist, Coastal Scouler's Catchfly is restricted in Canada to the lowland Coastal Douglas-fir zone, in areas that are wet in winter and dry in summer. The Coastal Scouler's Catchfly prefers grassy openings on gently sloping sites along the coast, locally referred to as maritime meadows. It is absent from shrub thickets and from patches of introduced robust grasses. Sites that formerly supported this perennial plant were probably burned frequently by First Nations communities seeking to improve production of camas (a native lily) on adjacent uplands.



Catchflys get their name from the sticky hairs on the plants that often trap flies and other small insects. There is little information available on the biology or ecology of the Coastal Scouler's Catchfly in British Columbia. It is a tap-rooted perennial species with a shallowly buried plant base that gives rise to multiple stems — creating clumps of genetically identical individuals. Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly is likely pollinated by insects. The plants on Trial Island have been known to produce mature seeds in late September or October. Coastal Scouler's Catchfly has limited seed production, and the seeds lack any special adaptations for long-distance dispersal. The localized distribution of this plant, and the well-documented history of populations in the area, also suggests that the establishment of new populations is rare. Studies of other plants in the same genus as the Coastal Scouler's Catchfly revealed that individuals can reappear after a period of dormancy (regenerating from desiccated stems), and that their seeds must be exposed to a period of cold weather before they will germinate.



Habitat destruction was the major cause of the decline of this species. The remaining populations are threatened by habitat degradation. Fire has been almost completely suppressed for several decades, favouring the growth of introduced shrubs and native woody species; no weed control strategies have been developed on the islands. Both populations are also at risk from potential marine pollution as they grow close to the intertidal zone of one of the most active oil shipping lanes in North America. Trail maintenance, including mowing and herbicide use, threatens some plants. Trampling by staff working at facilities on the islands and recreational kayakers may also be a risk.



Federal Protection

The Coastal Scouler's Catchfly is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Both remaining populations of Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly occur within provincial ecological reserves.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry


Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email



PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

13 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Coastal Scouler’s Catchfly Silene scouleri ssp. grandis in Canada (2003-12-22)

    Silene scouleri ssp. grandis (coastal Scouler's catchfly) is an erect, perennial forb growing in clumps from a taproot and a generally branched caudex. The plants have a rosette of basal leaves and paired opposite leaves on the stem. The leaves are hairy, entire and unstalked above. The inflorescence is a narrow spike of greenish-white to purple flowers. The calyx is prominently nerved and the petals have two lobes and two appendages. The fruit is a capsule containing numerous pimply seeds. This plant is distinct from other species within its habitat, even in vegetative form.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - Coastal Scouler's Catchfly (2004-04-21)

    A response statement is a communications document that identifies how the Minister of the Environment intends to respond to the assessment of a wildlife species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The document provides a start to the listing and recovery process for those species identified as being at risk, and provides timelines for action to the extent possible.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2016-11-04)

    This strategy has been developed to address the recovery of seven plant and two butterfly species and their associated habitats. These species are all characterized by one or more of the following: total population decline, small distributions with decline or fluctuation, loss of habitat, declining small population sizes or very small populations or restricted distribution (COSEWIC 2003b). Unless recovery actions are initiated, these species may become extinct or extirpated from Canada.


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (2004-04-21)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 2, 2005) (2005-01-12)

    Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), is amended by Order of the Governor in Council (GIC), on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, by the addition of 73 species. This Order is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and follows consultations with provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal peoples, stakeholders and the public, and analysis of costs and benefits to Canadians.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-12)

    The SAR at each site occurs in open meadows that are being encroached by Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, thistles and/or conifers. Our goal is to remove the invading species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations. Invasive removal will likely increase habitat availability and prevent future competition, should these invasive species invade further into the meadow. Also, elimination of competition is hypothesized to increase plant vigour, seed production, and over time, population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-05-0365), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-04-13)

    The number of plants, by phenological/demographic stage, are tracked and described in marked quadrats using non-destructive sampling techniques. Where possible, plants are simply counted by phenological stage and demographic class. Occasionally, fruits are collected in order to count seeds using a dissecting microscope. In experimental establishment studies, germination, establishment and survival of selected species are documented in experimental treatment sites. These treatment sites will be restricted to sites currently unoccupied by these or other species at risk. Invasive shrubs and herbs threatening populations of the aforementioned species at risk are removed in the vicinity of plants at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#FRH-2016-21599-SARA ), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-06-01)

    Parks Canada will collect seeds or other propagules, grow plants in a nursery, prepare and maintain translocation sites and out-plant the resulting stock to suitable sites at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and or Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site to increase populations of a number of species at risk in coastal sand dune and Garry Oak ecosystems, as per the recovery strategies for the species.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINP-2012-10633), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2012-04-01)

    This project aims to establish a small-scale experimental translocation of Coastal Scouler's Catchfly (Silene scouleri ssp. grandis), an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of SARA, to an islet in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, B.C. This project will enhance the recovery of the species by addressing key knowledge gaps about the species, and helping to meet the stated recovery strategy goals in accordance with SARA. The work involves out-planting Coastal Scouler's Catchfly plants at one translocation site; monitoring transplanted plants; and possible exotic invasive plant control.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#GINP-2020-37539), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2020-04-01)

    This is a conservation and restoration project for species at risk at the Parks Canada Coastal British Columbia Field Unit. The project aims to increase the supply of propagative material for a number of plant species at risk within the field unit; implement recovery actions outlined in Parks Canada's multi-species action plans for Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site; and improve knowledge on the best practices for the propagation, enhancement, translocation and habitat management of these species at risk. Propagative material (seed and rhizome) will be collected from species at risk in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve from May through October and will be sown outdoors in the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site conservation nursery from September through March. Propagative material from Coastal Scouler's Catchfly and Golden Paintbrush will be collected from populations on Mini D'Arcy Islet. Propagative material from Contorted-pod Evening-primrose will be collected from the population on Sidney Island. Contorted-pod Evening primrose may be affected by some localized trampling of the species and Common Nighthawk may be flushed from their nests. This project specifically addresses the species threats outlined in the recovery strategies and is believed necessary to secure the persistence of these plant species in Canada.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0050), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-08)

    In order to protect a suite of SARA Schedule 1 plants at risk from habitat degradation at various federal properties, invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to sub-populations of these species at risk by pulling by hand or manually cutting. Invasion of exotic species has been identified as a serious and increasing threat to these sub-populations. The invasive species biomass will be removed from the sites. Removal of invasive plants is believed to increase habitat availability for plants at risk, prevent future competition, as well as increase plant vigour, seed production and population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2010-0133), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-03-25)

    This project involves the propagation of Silene scouleri (coastal Scouler's catchfly) seeds within a controlled greenhouse environment at a federal facility to support a small-scale experimental translocation of the species, an endangered species listed under schedule I of the Species at Risk Act (COSEWIC 2003), to federal land owned by the Parks Canada Agency in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. No critical habitat and/or residences of species at risk will be affected by the proposed propagation of S. scouleri in a federal facility. This permit is for propagation only. The seeds needed for this project have already been collected. No specimens were collected from federal land and no new collection of S. scouleri specimens from federal land is proposed for this project. Due to mitigating measures taken during the seed collection to minimize the effects of the activity, the translocation project is not expected to affect the critical habitat or viability of extant populations of S. scouleri, and is expected to enhance the status of the Canadian population as a whole. The proposed experimental translocation of S. scouleri to Gulf Islands National Park Reserve has been presented to and endorsed by the Plants at Risk Recovery Implementation Group (RIG) of the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) and an advisory committee of senior Parks Canada Agency staff at Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: March 2004 (2004-03-03)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
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